But the most meaningful moment came during a presentation by Dessie Lee Patterson, the mayor of South Mansfield and the owner of Patterson's Grocery—Albert's destination on many a sprint down Russell Road as a youngster. Lewis swears he got faster once the town laid asphalt, which his father had fought for as a member of the town advisory council. After Patterson presented Albert with the key to South Mansfield, she announced that from that day forward Russell Road would be known as Albert Lewis Way. Tears flooded Vera's eyes. Russell Road had been named for a wealthy white landowner named Tommy Russell.
"Who would have ever thought that a black family would have a road named for them, especially the way we lived all those years?" Vera says. "This is history for us."
Holding the new street sign in his hands, Albert was overcome with emotion, and he thought of his father and how proud he would have been. "It isn't just my street sign," Albert said recently. "It belongs to my father. Nobody in town will ever mention Albert Lewis without knowing who my dad was. They'll mention me and my father, and hopefully, his father and his father. The street sign is my lather's legacy in Mansfield. He left something behind that is timeless."